Harrogate’s council house stock to be decimated by right to buy

For Sale signs around Harrogate
For Sale signs around Harrogate

Almost 30 per cent of Harrogate’s council housing stock will be sold off to fund new right-to-buy laws, a charity has warned.

The proposed new government scheme will see houses more than a set threshold be sold once they become vacant. The money raised will then be used to fund up to £77,900 discounts for housing association tenants taking up the right to buy.

Figures from housing charity Shelter say that 1,127 councils homes in Harrogate are above the threshold requiring them to be sold off, meaning that 29 per cent of the district council’s housing stock will be decimated.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “At a time when millions of families are struggling to find somewhere affordable to live, plans to sell off large swathes of the few genuinely affordable homes we have left is only going to make things worse.

“More and more families with barely a hope of ever affording a home of their own and who no longer have the option of social housing, will be forced into unstable and expensive private renting.”

According to figures from the Department for Communities, 13 homes were sold by Harrogate Borough Council between 2009 and 2014, however the council admits it has a very limited number of properties, and relies heavily on housing associations to find places for tenants on waiting lists.

In July Harrogate Borough Council said it owned 3,684 council houses across the district, 1,725 of which are in Harrogate.

The council admits fewer than one in ten people on the waiting list will be placed within a year and there are 1,266 households on council house waiting lists in Harrogate.

Concerns that right to buy proposals would have more impact in Harrogate due to the area’s high house prices were raised by councillors in

Independent Coun Chris Lewis (Great Ouseburn) raised her worries at a Harrogate Borough Council meeting last week.

She said: “These government proposals to sell off the most valuable housing could see our council having to sell off even our smallest one bed room flats, wouldn’t that have a huge impact on our ability to provide homes?”

Harrogate Borough Councillor’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Coun Mike Chambers (Con, Ripon Spa) replied: “Yes it could mean that for us. Currently the definition of the policy is being defined by the government and we have made our concerns known.”

We want to hear from you - Are you on the council house waiting list in Harrogate? Or struggling to buy your own home? Did you buy your home through right to buy? Email reporter Laura.Hill@jpress.co.uk